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Behavior in the House of God

 “…that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” 1 Timothy 3:14-16


Coming to church is your regular opportunity to enter into worship, pray, give offerings, receive teaching and preaching, and interact with people of like precious faith.  It is a safe assumption that none of these things happen when you do not come to church.  

Never let church attendance become optional for you.  You should not have to make a decision each Sunday whether or not you are attending church.  Once you think of church attendance as optional, you diminish its importance in your life.  It means that you take back more of the control of your life from the hands of God.  

I believe that if you are in town and not sick or working, you should be in church at the appointed times.  Exceptions are special family gatherings, graduations, special events that involve you personally.  The Superbowl is not one of those events! 


If you can be on time, you should be.  Coming in late distracts others from worship, especially visitors.  If you can be on time for work, school and appointments, you can be on time for church.

Before Service 

Imagine going to the doctor’s office and seeing an old friend in the waiting room.  You strike up a conversation with them and enjoy rehashing old times.  The nurse calls your name and says that the doctor is ready to see you.  What do you say?  “I’ll be with you in a minute.  I’m talking right now.”  Yet, people come to church and immediately jump into conversations that last long after the service begins.  

Before service, you should head to the prayer room to prepare your heart to receive the Word of God.  Never forget the real reason you have come to church.  I’ll admit, it is easy to become distracted by close friends, but if you fail to fulfill the purpose for church, you will soon lose your reason for coming. 

Reverence the House of God 

“Twelve Steps Towards Proper Church Etiquette”  by Cary Monaco 

  1. Similar to the common sense move on longer car trips, use the restroom just before services.
  2. In order to avoid walking into services late, leave home earlier.
  3. Don’t be somewhere else in the building drinking coffee, fellowshipping, etc. when you should be in church services.
  4. Write notes to yourself so that you can tell all of the enlightening things you have to say after church services rather than during them.
  5. Don’t bring food or drinks into church services.
  6. Turn off watch alarms and cell phones during services.
  7. Don’t expect someone else to make kids whose parents aren’t at church to behave. At least give it a try yourself.
  8. Consider how the way you dress relates to respect or disrespect for God.
  9. Wait until services are dismissed before zipping up your Bible cover.
  10. Don’t walk out of services during the invitation.
  11. If you must have a certain cough drop or candy enclosed in a crackling wrapper, unwrap as many as needed for church and put them in a noise-free container.
  12. Never, ever, be so utterly disrespectful that you clip your fingernails during services!!! 

Reverencing the House of God means that you do not treat it like a sports arena, a restaurant, your own home, an office or a public building.  Sleeping in church suggests you are bored, displeased or uncaring about what’s being said. 


The Bible teaching on modesty in dress applies everywhere you go in public, not just in church.  In church, however, we should dress in accordance with the purpose of worshipping God and with the dignity and reverence it suggests.  Look your best, wear clean and appropriate clothing and don’t dress to call attention to yourself in some outlandish way.  Why?  Because anything that takes the attention and focus away from God and puts it on yourself is contrary to the purpose of a church service.  

Personal hygiene is also very important when you come to church.  Your hair, your body and your clothing should be clean and should not be offensive in appearance or odor.  If you cannot afford soap or deodorant, please come and see me.  I will see to it that you get what you need.

Adjust your attitude 

A critical, complaining, murmuring, negative attitude is counterproductive to the spirit of the service.  Insincere, jocular, sacreligious and profane attitudes are out of place in church.  Belligerence, hateful remarks, arguing, will hurt the service and drive people away.  

Philippians 4:7-9 (KJV) 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. 9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

Greet one another 

When you come to church, have a smile on your face.  Shake hands with people.  Say “Praise the Lord” or some other positive greeting.  Do not be sullen, withdrawn or rude to others.  Some people treat their pets better than they treat the saints of God.  The Bible teaches us to be friendly, loving and kind to each other.  

2 Corinthians 6:4-6 (KJV) 4 But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, 5 In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; 6 By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned,


Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh.  When you talk to people, you give away the musings and meditations of your heart.  If you always talk about carnal subjects, bad news, personal gripes, pet peeves and the daily grind, you are not edifying others.  Do your best to lift people up and encourage them.  When service is in progress, do not carry on a conversation, or stand out in the lobby and talk while service is going on.  You are not receiving anything from the service and you are preventing the other person from getting anything as well.  

I think of Christians in totalitarian states like China and many Islamic countries who literally risk their lives by coming to church.  I’m sure they wouldn’t jeopardize their lives in order to come and spend their time talking to others.  They make every trip to church count for God and eternity.


We come to church services for two primary reasons:  to worship and to hear the Word of God.  I can preach to you but I cannot worship for you.  Participation in worship is essential to your spiritual wellbeing.  

            Sing.  If you don’t know the words, learn them.  If you can’t carry a tune, sing softly.  Whatever you do, if you just stand there, you are not worshipping nor are you magnifying God. 

            Show some kind of demonstration.  Raising your hands, clapping, shouting, dancing in the Spirit, kneeling, coming forward all show that you are engaged in worship.  

Psalms 69:30-36 (KJV)
30 I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.
31 This also shall please the LORD better than an ox or bullock that hath horns and hoofs.
32 The humble shall see this, and be glad: and your heart shall live that seek God.
33 For the LORD heareth the poor, and despiseth not his prisoners.
34 Let the heaven and earth praise him, the seas, and every thing that moveth therein.
35 For God will save Zion, and will build the cities of Judah: that they may dwell there, and have it in possession.
36 The seed also of his servants shall inherit it: and they that love his name shall dwell therein.

Psalms 34:1-3 (KJV)
1 I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2 My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.
3 O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together.

Psalms 134:1-3 (KJV)
1 Behold, bless ye the LORD, all ye servants of the LORD, which by night stand in the house of the LORD. 2 Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the LORD. 3 The LORD that made heaven and earth bless thee out of Zion.


I fear that many of us have forgotten how to enter into corporate prayer.  We sometimes take more time with prayer requests than we do with prayer. 

James 5:12-16 (KJV)
12 But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.
13 Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.
14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:
15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.
16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.


Attentiveness in church means paying attention.  Use the restroom before you come into the service.  Continual walking in and out of a service is distracting to the speaker, aggravating to others in the service, and disruptive to the spirit of the service.  The absolute worst time to walk out of a service is during the preaching or during the altar service. 

The following paragraph is an excerpt from my book, “The View from the Back of the Pulpit.” 

“The view from the back of the pulpit can be daunting.  The traffic. The latecomers. The early leavers. The bumpson-logs. The live wires. The break-away toddlers. The weak-kidneyed multi-trippers, the restroom checker-outers.  The door-slammers, note-passers, gum-chewers, picture-admirers,  back-scratchers, nose-blowers, compact-viewers, nail-clipperers, window-gazers, light-bulb-counters, daydreamers, baby-entertainers, homework-finishers, hair-combers, cat-nappers, face-makers, eye-rollers, child scolders, conversationalists, snorers, fidgeters, readers, doodlers, and the entire three-ring circus that a church service can become.”  

The tissues around the altar are for those who come to pray at the altar during altar service.  They are not for general use.  It’s not that a tissue is so expensive, it is that when we need them for the intended purpose, they are all gone.  To blow your nose, bring your own hanky or tissue.

Altar etiquette 

The altar is a very sacred place and people are in an extremely sensitive mood when they come for the first time, or when they come for a renewing or refreshing.  Inappropriate touching, rubbing or massaging is distractive to many and some are offended by it.  Some people actually do not want any contact at all.  They want to be left alone.  If you do not know why a person is at the altar, do not make any assumptions and begin praying a prayer with them that is not in keeping with their need.  

Speaking into a person’s ear, especially in a loud voice, can be very disruptive.  Never force people to lift their hands or prompt them to say things that they are not ready to say. 

Twenty-Five Ways to Have a Better Church Service 

  1. Get up in the morning anticipating a great service.
  2. Plan your day so as not to permit anything to keep you from attending.
  3. Call someone and ask them to come with you.
  4. Pick someone up in your car and bring them to service.
  5. Prepare your heart and mind with repentance.
  6. Arrive early enough to pray before service begins.
  7. Greet visitors with a smile and a handshake.
  8. Avoid talking about heavy or unspiritual subjects before service.
  9. Encourage others to get everything they can from the service.
  10. Sit as close to the front as you can.
  11. Focus on worshipping.
  12. Do not watch the clock.
  13. Actually worship with special singers instead of making them entertain you.
  14. Refuse to allow your mind to wander or become distracted.
  15. Conquer nervousness, impatience and the “fidgets” during the service.
  16. Don’t allow a thoughtless word or act by someone ruin the service for you.
  17. Don’t get up and walk out.
  18. Stay aware of the needs of visitors during the service.
  19. Remain sensitive to the Holy Spirit throughout the service.
  20. Continually ask God to apply the Word to your life.
  21. Intercede for souls at the close of the message.
  22. Assist people who want to pray at the altar.
  23. Offer to attend to someone’s baby or child while they pray.
  24. Thank the minister for the message both generally and specifically.
  25. Determine how you will act differently as you leave the service.

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